Scripture and Worship Discussion

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Scripture: Matthew 24:36-44 (CEB)


But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the heavenly angels and not the Son. Only the Father knows. As it was in the time of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Human One. In those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. They didn’t know what was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. 


The coming of the Human One will be like that. At that time there will be two men in the field. One will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill. One will be taken and the other left.


Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know what day the Lord is coming. But you understand that if the head of the house knew at what time the thief would come, he would keep alert and wouldn’t allow the thief to break into his house.Therefore, you also should be prepared, because the Human One will come at a time you don’t know.


Discussion:

  1. This month's series is called "Christ Child Experiences" and is about ways of experiencing life with the innocence and wonder of a child. What about the Christmas season brings you the most joy and sparks your "child-like" feelings?
  2. This Sunday's scripture (see above) is typically associated with "end times" theology. Brad makes the case that once we move past the "end times" theology these scriptures describe an openness to seasons of change and possibility. How comfortable are you with reimagining scripture away from its typical interpretation into something new? How much leeway do you want clergy to have in reinterpreting/reimagining scripture? A lot; a little? Why do you feel this way?
  3. Looking at the section of scripture where people are swept up in the flood in the time of Noah, Brad says that God works this way - sweeping into our lives as they are and leading us in new directions. (Remember his litany of all the biblical figures who thought their lives were going in one direction, but then went in another direction.) Brad asks, what new thing is God sweeping us into at this time? What do you think these new things might be?
  4. Looking at the section about one person being taken while the other continues in the field or at the mill, Brad posits that we need to set aside our agendas to be free to see where God wants to take us in ministry. What part of your agenda do you need to let go of in order to be more fully engaged in the ministry God is calling you to?
  5. Finally, in the section about staying alert, Brad asks how are we staying alert to where God is showing up in the world today. Where do you see God acting in the world today? What can you do to stay alert to God's movement? How do you want to participate in God's action?  

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Scripture: Ephesians 3:14-21 (TIB)


That is why I kneel before Abba God, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. And I pray that God, out of the riches of divine glory, will strengthen you inwardly with power through the working of the Spirit. May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, will be able to grasp fully the breadth, length, height, and depth of Christ's love and, with all God's holy ones, experience the love that surpasses all understanding, so that you may be filled with the fullness of God. To God - whose power now works in us to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine - to God be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end! Amen!

Discussion:
  1. The message begins with Brad discussing times when he was disoriented by being in settings outside of his life experience (rural settings / large city settings) and he claims we are all in a similar place with how much the culture has changed and is continuing to change, Can you identify with this sort of disorientation? How do you deal with it. Brad says it's hard to keep clear boundaries in such settings. Do you agree? Why or why not? 
  2. Brad states Ephesians was a cosmopolitan city in the Roman Empire where people could easily feel disoriented and struggle to keep clear boundaries. Paul prays for the Ephesians that they might be "strengthen... inwardly with power through the working of the Spirit," and that they might be "rooted and grounded in love" knowing the "depth of Christ's love." Brad makes the case that these are the keys to keeping clear boundaries and not losing ourselves. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think being rooted in Christ might help you clear about yourself and your boundaries? If so, why?
  3. Brad ends with several stories from the life of Jesus where he exhibited clear boundaries. The stories include, Jesus being rejected in his hometown, an attempt at manipulating him made by Peter, being baited by religious leaders and so on. Each time Jesus remained focused on "who he was, where he was headed and why he was doing what he was doing." Maintaining boundaries isn't easy requires focus like Jesus. What are some of the things you do to keep healthy boundaries?

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Scripture: John 5:1-9 (Common English Bible)


5 After this there was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 In Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate in the north city wall is a pool with the Aramaic name Bethsaida. It had five covered porches, 3 and a crowd of people who were sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed sat there. 5 A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, knowing that he had already been there a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I don’t have anyone who can put me in the water when it is stirred up. When I’m trying to get to it, someone else has gotten in ahead of me.”


8 Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 Immediately the man was well, and he picked up his mat and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.



Discussion Questions and Resources

  1. Here are the 2 short articles on setting boundaries that Tania mentions in the message: Jesus Set Boundaries and How to Set Boundaries: 5 Ways To Draw The Line Politely

  2. Check out this short video segment from The Chosen on this scripture passage for a helpful visual!

  3. When you think of healthy boundaries, what do you think of? Who in your life is an example of having healthy boundaries? 

  4. What do you think of the statement that Tania said: “You might say that the Bible is a holy guidebook of little flags marking boundaries. Both contextually for the culture they were written and in the way that the Spirit speaks to us today through those sacred texts in tandem with reason, tradition, and experience. When we look at the life of Jesus we can see that he was really, really, good at boundaries. No, he was a master at healthy boundaries! He walked through the world in his short time with us communicating clearly what it is that he could do, and what it is he couldn’t do, and without apology.” Have you thought of the Bible or Jesus in this way? What does it mean for you to read the Bible contextually and also through the gift of the Spirit with reason, tradition, and experience? 

  5. Tania quotes a Christian counselor who says, “While many Christians are quick to point to verses about love, sacrifice, and being self-less in defense of their boundaryless lives, they choose to skip over a whole heap of verses that teach Christians to practice discernment when it comes to their personal life. Boundaries need to exist in relationships for love to be true, genuine, and purely motivated. Why do you think this became a part of the Christian DNA? Do you still see it existing today? Where? 

  6. As you hear the cruelty of the world that the man in our scripture had to deal with and you think about our world today, where are people set apart because they are different? Where would Jesus show up today, and what would healing look like? 

  7. Tania invites us to see the man’s situation as a metaphor for the challenging situations we experience in our lives. When you read the scripture from this perspective, what bubbles up in your spirit and mind? 

  8. At the end of the message, Tania says, “Fiends, we cannot fix all that ails this world. Yet, we can transform our situations and embody the likeness of Jesus Christ one faithful step at a time and one healthy boundary at a time. And when we do so, we look into the caring and loving face of Jesus Christ and stand in his healing light. May it be so.  -Amen.” What does this mean to you? What do you sense as something you would like to chew on further or implement from what you have heard?



Sunday, November 6, 2022


Scripture: Luke 5:12-16 (MSG)


One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus he fell down before him in prayer and said, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”


Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone.


Jesus instructed him, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed self to the priest, along with the offering ordered by Moses. Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” But the man couldn’t keep it to himself, and the word got out. Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their sicknesses. Still, as often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.


Bishop Sally Dick's message at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference (her message begins at the 29:30 mark):  https://vimeopro.com/dakotasumc/ncj2022/video/768173011


Discussion:

  1. Brad begins his message describing the boundaries of the woods behind his childhood home and how staying within those boundaries gave him space to grow and explore while helping his parents know he was safe. His point: that having clear boundaries positions us to become our best selves in Christ and helps us live vibrant lives with others. What are your thoughts? How important are clear boundaries in relationships?
  2. Brad points to Jesus deciding to heal the man with leprosy as a sign that healthy boundaries begin with being intentional and making intentional choices. How intentional are your choices? Why do you think this is or isn't important?
  3. In the scripture Jesus requests that the healed man honor some boundaries he (Jesus) had - being silent about the healing - but the man ignored the boundaries. Brad says we cannot control how others act when we set boundaries, and that when boundaries are crossed it often leads to harm. Have you ever experienced a moment when your boundaries weren't respected? When were the consequences? Does having these experiences lead you to being more respectful of other's boundaries?
  4. Brad finally notes that even though Jesus' boundaries were crossed he was still good at setting his own internal boundaries of getting away for self-care and prayer. Are you good at doing this? What inhibits you from setting healthy boundaries for your own wellbeing? What is one concrete step you can take to develop your boundaries? 


Sunday, October 23, 2022


Scripture: Acts 17:19-28, 32-34 (TIB)


They invited Paul to accompany them to the Council of the Areopagus and said, "Let us learn of this new teaching you describe. You bring some strange notions to our ears, and we would like to know the meaning of all this." The Athenians and the foreigners living there loved talking about and listening to the latest ideas whenever they could.


Then Paul stood up before the council of the Areopagus and delivered this address: "Citizens of Athens, I note that in every respect you are scrupulously religious. As I walked about looking at your shines, I even discovered an alter inscribed, 'To an Unknown God.' Now what you are worshiping in ignorance I intend to make known to you.


"For the God who made the world and all that is in it, the Sovereign of heaven and earth, doesn't live in sanctuaries made by human hands, and isn't served by humans, as if in need of anything. No! God is the One who gives everyone life, breath - everything. From one person God created all of humankind to inhabit the entire earth, and set the time for each nation to exist and the exact place where each nation should dwell. God did this so human beings would seek, reach out for, and perhaps find the One who is really not far from any of us - the One in whom we live and move and have our being. As one of your poets has put it, 'We too are God's children.'"


Discussion:

  • This week's message starts with Brad reflecting on the cultural churning and dynamism of the times in which we find ourselves. How does living in a time of great change impact you? Does it make you nervous or anxious? Do you find it exciting? Why?
  • Last week Brad stated that faith sharing is intended to be relational. This week he paired it with being intentional. What does being intentional mean to you? What do you do to be intentional in the practice of your faith?
  • Three keys to being intentional include: Being grounded. That is about practicing your faith. How are you doing with the practice of your faith (worship participation, prayer, scripture reading, service, tithing etc.)? What would help you to be more intentional in being grounded in your faith?
  • Looking for opportunities to share your faith. Brad points out that Paul was very opportunistic in sharing his faith with the Athenians - that he started with where they were at so as to make a connection. What are some opportunities you can take to share your faith?
  • Being unambiguous. Brad points out that when Paul spoke in the Areopagus that he was very direct in sharing his faith. Are you comfortable in being direct in sharing your faith? Why or why not? What is one concrete step you can take to increase your comfort with this?


Sunday, October 16, 2022


Scripture: Hosea 1:2-9 (NLT)


When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.”


So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. And the Lord said, “Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence.I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.”


Soon Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to Hosea, “Name your daughter Lo-ruhamah—‘Not loved’—for I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies—not with weapons and armies or horses and charioteers, but by my power as the Lord their God.”



After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again became pregnant and gave birth to a second son. And the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi—‘Not my people’—for Israel is not my people, and I am not their God.


Scripture: Hosea 11:8-9 (NLT)


“Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah or demolish you like Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows.


No, I will not unleash my fierce anger. I will not completely destroy Israel, for I am God and not a mere mortal. I am the Holy One living among you, and I will not come to destroy."


Discussion:

  1. Brad states that the scripture from the first chapter of Hosea is "problematic" because it portrays Hosea (and by extension God) as using Gomer and the three children just to make a theological point. How does this make you feel? What do we do when we run into scripture that doesn't align with our sensibilities?
  2. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Brad makes the case that the first chapter of Hosea is still God-inspired since it "equips" us with an example of how not to treat people when sharing our faith. Have you ever experienced someone "evangelizing" you in a manner that feels confrontational or even abusive? How did it make your feel about being Christian?
  3. Brad suggests that when we share our faith we ought to be the opposite of the first chapter of Hosea, and be like the Hosea we encounter in the 11th chapter.  Brad says faith sharing is primarily relational. What does this mean to you?
  4. Brad highlighted these keys to relational faith sharing: speak using "I" statements, be an active listener, be vulnerable - express your feelings, and remember why you are doing it - love for the other person and love of God. Which of these do you feel you are good at? Do any of these, such as being vulnerable scare you a bit? What keeps you from sharing your faith?

Homework:

Are you ready to take someone out for a cup of coffee and talk faith? If so, please let Brad know - he's interested in hearing about your experience! 

   





Sunday, October 9, 2022


1 Peter 2:2-10 (New Living Translation)


2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

Living Stones for God’s House

4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.

5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests.[a] Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 6 As the Scriptures say,

“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,[b]

    chosen for great honor,

and anyone who trusts in him

    will never be disgraced.”[c]

7 Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him.[d] But for those who reject him,

“The stone that the builders rejected

    has now become the cornerstone.”[e]

8 And,

“He is the stone that makes people stumble,

    the rock that makes them fall.”[f]

They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.

9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,[g] a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

10

“Once you had no identity as a people;

    now you are God’s people.

Once you received no mercy;

    now you have received God’s mercy.”[h]


Discussion Questions

  1. Tania recalls the process of getting to college and her experiences as a freshman. She names this as a time when she was trying on a new identity. Is there a time in your life that you recall trying on a new identity? What was it? What do you remember about how you felt at the time?

  2. Tania does a mid-rash, an interpretation, of 1 Peter 2:9-10. Here it is: 

“9 But you are not like the rest of the world, for you are a people who have made a different choice. In your baptism and confirmation, you made a decision to be aligned with God, and your life and how you live it is so precious to the Holy One. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for you know what it is like to be called out of the darkness into the healing Light of Christ.” 10 Once the world defined you; now who you are in God defines you. Once, you had no way; now, you have a way in God.” When you read this, what speaks to you? 


  1. What do you think of this excerpt from the message: “But this is one thing I have figured out; we are all called no exception. We need to make sure we do not fall prey to thinking that it is someone else's job, or that someone else is better qualified, or think we can pay someone to do what needs to be done. Rather it is as simple as recognizing  that we are called in the ordinary places of our lives to show others the goodness of God.” What parts do you agree with, are there parts you disagree with, and why?  

  2. Tania says, “This week I invite you to take this rubber band and pray about the places in which you will normally be where you can show the goodness of God. This does not require you to do something different but to be different in that you claim your identity to be God’s person, on behalf of God in the places you naturally find yourself. In every encounter we have, we can choose to stretch ourselves more toward the likeness of Christ or not.” Where is it that you can stretch yourself a bit and hold that place together with God and God’s love and care for that situation, person, or people? 

  3. If someone were to ask you why you do what you do as you show God’s goodness, what would your response be?



Sunday, October 2, 2022


Scripture: Matthew 5:11-16 (MSG)


“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, Ido! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.


“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.


“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."


Discussion:

  1. Brad states; "The lie we told ourselves is this: that you can be a person of faith without your faith truly transforming who you are and second, that you can be a person of faith without bearing witness to your faith in actions and words." This is a very strong statement - how do you feel about it? Do you agree or disagree with what he says?
  2. In quoting Romans 12:2 ("Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to learn what God’s will is – God’s good, pleasing and perfect will") Brad states that our faith ought to transform us. Has your faith transformed you? Does it impact who you are in public? In every setting?
  3. Brad states that United Methodists are really good at sharing their faith in what they do through service, but that we stumble when it comes to talking about our faith out in the world. Do you believe this is so, why or why not?  
  4. United Methodist membership vows state we will, “faithfully participate in the church's ministries by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness.” Do you believe that christ-followers are obliged to share their faith? Why or why not?
  5. What might hold you back from talking about your faith with others?

Homework:


Commit this week to pray for two things: 

  1. for openness to the idea of sharing your faith and
  2. that God help you be more transparent in naming your faith before others.


Sunday, September 25, 2022


Scripture: Luke 5:1-11 (MSG)


Once when he was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, the crowd was pushing in on him to better hear the Word of God. He noticed two boats tied up. The fishermen had just left them and were out scrubbing their nets. He climbed into the boat that was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd.


When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.”

Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.


Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.” When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Simon and everyone with him. It was the same with James and John, Zebedee’s sons, coworkers with Simon.



Jesus said to Simon, “There is nothing to fear. From now on you’ll be fishing for men and women.” They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all, and followed him.


Discussion:

  1. In today's scripture Jesus asks Simon and his fishing colleagues to "put out a little from shore," or in other words take the small step of trying something new so Jesus could teach the people. Brad says the first step in discovering our why starts with trying a new thing like a seasonal class or a Core group. What is holding you back from this sort of activity?
  2. When he's done preaching Jesus says, "push out into deep water," which Brad equates to "going deeper" in our faith. Making a commitment to lifelong learning and growing in faith is essential to discovering your purpose (your why). Do you agree with this? What keeps you from making this commitment?
  3. Yes us also tells the fishermen to let down their nets, even though they hadn't caught anything all day. This is taking a leap of faith according to Brad. At some point we need to take a leap of faith (that is follow Jesus rather than our own understanding) to discover our why  the faith. What are your thoughts on this?
  4. When the net comes up full of fish Simon says,  “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.” Brad points out that a common response to God's goodness is for us to think of ourselves as unworthy, but that God never thinks we are unworthy. Why. do you. think people respond this way? Do you respond this way? To you think this response pushes us away from God?
  5. The story concludes with Jesus offering to make Simon and his friends "fishers of men and women." This is how we find our why - by following Jesus. Your thoughts?    



Sunday, September 18, 2022


I John 3:16-18 (NIV)


We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers and sisters. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?


Little children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.


Discussion:


Carter, a Senior in our youth group provided us the sermon this week. In his sermon, he mentioned a rapper, Andy Mino. The song, "Wild Things" he references, can be found here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzAcAgTq5d4 


  1. Carter mentions a conversation between himself, and an openly atheist friend. During this conversation the friend states “on the surface level we [Christians] can be viewed as, ignorant, egotistical, condescending, hypocritical, and homophobic.” Can you think of examples that might have fostered those believes? Where do you think they came from? Are these modern thinkings, or old views? Carter directly asked us “ why are we[ Christians] viewed that way-And more importantly, what can we do not to be viewed that way anymore?”
  2. Carter nod’s to the Andy Mino song lyrics, and makes a connection to judgement. Carter states, “every judgmental look is a sharp rock on the path, every love the sinner hate the sin comment is a pothole, every time somebody is pushed out from a church is a shard of glass from a broken bottle that pops your tire.”  Carter asks us then, “ How can we repave that path?” What are some small ways that you might be able to allow someone to feel more included, represented, honored, respected, loved, and valued? 
  3. Carter highlighted the good he sees in the community at FUMC, but noted the importance of talking/engaging and connecting with others. As Carter said “If you are struggling with the idea of “repaving” Christianity, then I invite you to think about it, pray about it, and most importantly talk about it. Especially with people who currently feel excluded and hurt by much of what passes for Christianity in our culture.”  Authenticity is key, what are some ways that you can start to engage others and learn a new point of view? 
  4. As we continue our “What’s your WHY?” Sermon Series, Carter’s “WHY” was surrounded in relationships (talking with his friend), community (FUMC) and finding safety in exploring harsh realities with trusted folks (Youth min/camp/mission trip). Do you have spaces, relationships, or communities where you yourself can ask or express some harsh topics? Who are these folks, where are your safe space? Do these places, people, and spaces let you reflect on your “WHY?


Sunday, September 11, 2022


Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8 (NRSVUE)


In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said,


“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”


The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”



Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said, “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!


Discussion:

  1. Brad says that his regular encounter with his family at their annual reunion "grounds" him as a person, and that this is important because knowing who we are (being grounded) is essential in understanding our why (why we do the things we do and believe the things we believe).  What our your thoughts on this? Do you agree with this statement?
  2. Brad asserts: "Encountering God (the one who knows us completely and has always known us) in worship grounds us as persons, which in turn begins us on the journey of discovering what is our why." What are your thoughts on this? Do you think worship is essential in understanding your why?
  3. Isaiah in our text today has an encounter with the Divine. Brad believes this happened because Isaiah engaged in worship primarily as a sensory experience and not just as an intellectual exercise. when you worship is it an experience? Do you anticipate encountering God?
  4. When Isaiah encounters God he immediately takes stock of who he is - "woe is me... I'm a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips..." - he gains clarity of who he is. Brad asserts that this is the essence of being grounded. Do you agree? When you encounter God does it cause you to reflect on who you are?
  5. Brad concludes by saying that when we encounter God ultimately we must respond. Isaiah responded with "Here I am, send me." How do you respond when you encounter God? 


Homework:


During the next two weeks commit to being in worship (in-person or virtually) and spend time each day participating in an activity that grounds you. This might be a conversation with an old friend or family member. It might be a dedicated time of prayer and/or meditation. Do that which helps you gain clarity about who you are. This is the first step in discovering your why. 



Sunday, September 4, 2022


Matthew 16:13-20 (Living Bible Translation)


13 When Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who are the people saying I am?”  


14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; some, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”


15 Then he asked them, “Who do you think I am?”


16 Simon Peter answered, “The Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”


17 “God has blessed you, Simon, son of Jonah,” Jesus said, “for my Father in heaven has personally revealed this to you—this is not from any human source. 18 You are Peter, a stone; and upon this rock I will build my church; and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever doors you lock on earth shall be locked in heaven; and whatever doors you open on earth shall be open in heaven!”


20 Then he warned the disciples against telling others that he was the Messiah.


Discussion Questions


  1. Comedian Michael Jr. reflected on the difference in the gentleman’s singing from the 1st to the 2nd time, “When you know your why your what has more impact because you are working in or towards your purpose.” (To view the video go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZe5y2D60YU When in your life has knowing your “why” helped your impact? 

  2. Tania says, “When you start looking at the questions that we have recorded in the 2nd testament that Jesus asked (there are over 300 of them, by the way), you see that he was not interested in dolling out answers as he was cultivating folks to come up with their answers by how they understood the heart of God. He asked questions not because he did not know the answers but rather to get his followers to do the work of processing their thoughts, claiming them within their spirits, and developing their identity with their own voices. Why else do you think Jesus asked so many questions? 

  3. Tania quotes out of Resilient: Restoring Your Weary Soul in These Turbulent Times, “We were all running like rats on a wheel before 2020—addicted to technology, overwhelmed by global news, wrung out from social tensions, exhausted body and soul from the madness of modern life. Does anybody even remember? Life was draining. It wasn’t like we stepped out of a three-year sabbatical when we stepped into 2020. We were set up to be steamrolled by the pandemic.” How did this steamrolling affect your faith life?

  4. It is easy to fall prey to the people who say Christianity is dying. This refrain happens every 500 years or so in history (Phyllis Tickle). In the message, Tania says, “Yet, what makes this moment in Christian history crucial and pregnant with possibility for you and me in this chaos of the great North American Christian diaspora is that we can ask questions that move us away from the what and, with great clarity, back to the source of our why.” What are the "what's" you think have happened in church (little c and big C) to veer us away from our why? 

  5. You knew this was coming… What is your personal, in your own voice, answer to “Why church?”

For a fun article about the kinds of questions, Jesus asked, go here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jesus-didnt-teach-with-an_b_5957772




Sunday, August 28, 2022


Scripture: Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV)


Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


Discussion Questions:

  1. Brad begins his message by telling the story of how the people of Florence destroyed some of their most beautiful Renaissance artwork because a Dominican friar thought it was what God wanted. Brad further states that the cost to human civilization of people who thought they knew God's mind and/or could control God's actions has been immense. Can you think of examples of such persons? For example Vladimir Putin often describes the Ukrainian war in religious terms. 
  2. Brad posits that human beings attempt to control things (including God) in chaotic times when things are changing (i.e the sky is falling). Do you think this is so? Brad also states that this is an attempt to control the uncontrollable. Do we try to do this?
  3. Brad said the following in this message: "The promise of our faith is not that God will keep the sky from falling. Nor is it that God will give it a set starting and ending time to change and chaos, or that we can even control the movement of the Divine." How do you feel about this? Do you agree or disagree?
  4. Brad says that our inability to keep the "sky from falling leads to doubts, but that doubting is okay and healthy. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  5. Brad also states that rebuilding from "sky is falling" moments isn't easy, and that God never promised our lives would be easy. How do you feel about this.
  6. Finally, Brad states that the promise of our faith is that we are never alone. God is always with us. How does this make you feel?